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Book Review: Running the ‘Highway to Hell’ By Graeme Harvey


Running the Highway to Hell: The 28th Sultan Marathon des Sables

Graeme competed in the Marathon des Sables in 2013 and came 366th overall, it took him 37 hours and 55 minutes. His book gives a detailed account of how he came to be doing the MdS, his training, and his actual experience during the event (including a very detailed chapter on how to go to the bathroom!)

He also includes a detailed packing list (with the weights of the different items) and a nice little question and answer section, covering off topics: such as what food he took, should you take a camera? Do you need flip flops or hotel slippers? Etc.

It was a great book to read, it gives a good idea of what to expect. It’s well worth the money, (£1.97) it’s a quick interesting read, about thirty minutes or so and it provides lots of useful information and tips. So much so, I’ve found myself going back to it a few times to re-read certain sections. This time I decided to make a note of all the useful and essential “need to know” information provided, just to have it all in one place.


  • Have a training plan for endurance.

  • Have a gym plan focused on core work, body conditioning and strength training.

  • Only start training with a pack in the final 3 months and build up the weight gradually. Any earlier and you’ll risk injury.

Before you go

  • Attend a Sandbaggers Seminar where you can have an ECG done. This needs to be done 30 days before the event.

  • Do a 50 mile race so you’ll know you have it in your legs.

  • Get your weight down, the lighter you are the easier you’ll find it.


  • Test everything: food, clothing, recovery shakes, head torches etc before you take it to the desert.

  • Pack weight is a minimum of 6.5 kg. Aim to be as light as you can be.

  • Wear the same clothes all week.

  • T-shirt – Z mechanic 2.5 silver reflector heat top (to draw heat from the skin and keep you cool in the hot sun).

  • Equipment he took

  • Backpack – Original Raidlight Olmo 20 – (which includes a whistle and also a cord for the flare)

  • Bottles 2 x 700 ml (Osprey)

  • Sleeping bag & silk liner

  • Mat – (Klymit X Litre)

  • Ear plugs

  • Sunglasses

  • Spare socks – 1000 mile fusion

  • Buff worn

  • Down Gilet

  • Ipod Nano & headphones

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste

  • Mini duct tape

  • Esbit Solid Fuel Tablets


  • Head torch with batteries & spare batteries

  • 10 Safety Pins

  • Button Compass 1 or 2 degree precision

  • Lighter

  • Whistle (on bag)

  • Swiss Army Knife

  • Anti-Venom Pump - Aspivenin

  • Signalling Mirror

  • Aluminium Survival Sheet

  • Flare

  • Road book

  • Cash – 200 euro – take two 100 euro notes (these weight the least)